Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mr. Woodchuck

Say, hello Mr. Woodchuck - Hello Mr. Woodchuck...

The Lincoln Street vegetable and flower eating varmint-pest has been foiled and apprehended. I gotta admit, I am shocked! The trap has been sitting out in the yard, set, with NO bait for several weeks now and all of a sudden GOTCHA! I am puzzled but on a somewhat different topic, Emilie recently passed her first ever swimming lesson class and is now officially a Pollywog 2.

Mr. Woodchuck was NOT a happy camper and made it perfect clear when I approached. Unlike Emilie, Mr. Woodchuck failed to become a Pollywog 2...

New Game - "Find the Insect"

Based on the popular children's "I Spy" books...

Can you find the insect in the above picture?

Insect Fornication

The following pictures were taken over the last couple of days here at the ole homestead. They're to illustrate that the insects here at Lincoln Street are plentiful, happily content and apparently been eating watermelon, a lot of watermelon...

#1 -
#2 -
#3 -
#4 -
#5 -
#6 -
#7 -

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Visiting Deer

We had two adorable baby deer fawns, twins I would guess, visiting us this morning. They appeared a little nervous then all of a sudden they bolted, their tails raised high. One went straight back into the under brush and was gone and the other into the neighbors back yard and gone. As it turns out there was a dog a few houses over. The dog didn't notice them but they didn't hang around to see.

JoAnne ran to get the camera but they were gone before she could get any pictures. However, I've drawn a picture that's pretty darn close to what they looked like right down to the number of spots on each one.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Here's Your Sign

It was raining this afternoon as I left work and of course I didn't have my umbrella with me, it was nice and dry in the truck. There was also thunder and lightening happening too - a thunder storm.

Last week we had a thunder storm in the area that came on suddenly, which caught most people by surprise. One group of people in Boston, Dorchester to be exact, were out playing soccer when the storm hit so the group of them, all (10), seeked cover under a large tree to get out of the rain - wrong decision. Lightening hit the tree traveled down and struck all ten people - all survived.

Anyway, as I was walking to my truck I was startled by a dude (co-worker) standing under a tree to get out of the rain while smoking a cigarette. We said "hi" to each other about the same time a loud clap of thunder hit. The dude says "wow, not the smartest idea to be standing under a tree in a thunder storm". I'm thinking to myself dude your smoking a cigarette if the lightening doesn't kill you the cigarette will.

"Here's your sign", from comedian Bill Engvall

I've Been Told I'm Unfun...

Here is the actual quote -

"You are quite possibly the most unfun person that God has put on this green earth"

JoAnne - Wednesday night, July 23, 2008 8:48PM

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Good Manners

To those of you whom I may have offended by my earlier joke posting titled 'Sunburn Treatment', my apologies. If so, you're prolly not gonna wanna read any further...

During one of her daily classes, a teacher trying to teach good manners, asked her students the following question:

"Robert, if you were on a date having dinner with a nice young lady, how would you tell her that you have to go to the bathroom?"

Robert said, "Just a minute I have to go pee." The teacher responded by saying, "That would be rude and impolite.

What about you Sherman, how would you say it?" Sherman said, "I am sorry, but I really need to go to the bathroom. I'll be right back."

"That's better, but it's still not very nice to say the word bathroom at the dinner table.

And you, little Johnny, can you use your brain for once and show us your good manners?

'I would say: "Darling, may I please be excused for a moment? I have to shake hands with a very dear friend of mine, whom I hope to introduce you to after dinner."

The teacher fainted...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Honey Bee

Here is the first, VERY FIRST, Honey Bee that I've seen visiting in our yard and on our flowers all spring and summer long and it's already July 20!

1st Honey Bee on Uncle Tommy -

- Honey Bee on Balloon flower.

Oh, we've had other bees all spring and summer long, especially Bumble Bees but not a single Honey Bee until today.

Bumble Bee dining on Salvia -

- Coneflower host - not sure what this bee is.

Hopefully there are more Honey Bees and I've just not noticed them. They're certainly welcome and needed too. However, Honey Bees are dying off all around the country at an alarming rate and the the experts are unsure why...

Honey Bee Die-off Alarms Beekeepers, Crop Growers And Researchers

Fennel - Foeniculum vulgare

Here is a recent picture of our fennel plant. It's approximately 4' tall now and has some nice yellow flowers topping it, which the bees enjoy. It's doing great right where it is and has been since being put in the ground.

Now don't be fooled into thinking that we had any intentions of eating this herb, no sir. This plant was purchased and planted for one purpose and one purpose only - to attract butterflies. Specifically, butterfly caterpillars and more specifically swallowtail caterpillars.

The above picture shows precisely what we intended to attract - a teeny, tiny swallowtail caterpillar. In fact there were approximately 8 to 10 of the little dudes feeding and taking refuge on the lower half of the fennel.

Our plan was working and we successfully attracted the caterpillars! However, this excitement was short lived. We'd check on them everyday, count them and note their progress but one day they were gone, all of them :-( We don't know for sure what happened to them but suspect they became a snack for the birds.

We continued to check and not too long afterwards several more appeared and Emilie was excited. I wrapped the fennel with bird netting in the hope that this would prevent the birds from getting at them and give them time to grow but again this was short lived and this second batch disappeared too, just like the first. We still don't know for sure what ever happened to them and no more have appeared...

Fennel Fun Fact: In Greek mythology, Prometheus used the stalk of a fennel plant to steal fire from the gods birds.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Balloon Flowers 2008

Balloon Flower (Chinese Bellflower) - Platycodon grandiflorus

We have an abundance of these flowers growing in and around our pool area - the pictures below are just a few. They've been reseeding and multiplying all on their own these past few years and look quite nice now that they're blooming and mixed in with the other flowers, i.e. purple cone flower and black-eyed Susan's, which are also in full bloom. We have white and blue with some cross pollinating too, which produced some interested combinations last year. Actually, last year Emilie enjoyed popping these when in the balloon phase. I've not caught her doing it this year and can only hope that she's got this out of her system.

Before -

After -

Before -

After -
Balloon flowers are one of the easiest perennials you'll ever grow, and they bloom in profusion in mid to late summer, when many other perennials are beginning to fade. You won't find a more carefree perennial!

Bellflower Interesting Tip:
To make the flowers last in the vase, sear the stems with a match or candle flame immediately after cutting.

Bellflower Interesting Fact:
The root of this species (radix platycodi) is used extensively in Asia as an anti-inflammatory in the treatment of coughs and colds. In Korea the plant is known as doraji and its root, either dried or fresh, is a popular ingredient in salads and traditional herbal cooking. However, Chinese bellflower and Korean bellflower are different. Chinese bellflower is used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Pelidnota punctata

I was out picking Japanese beetles and June beetles off of the raspberries, ferns and grapes when I came across this critter, Pelidnota punctata otherwise known as the spotted pelidnota, spotted June beetle and grapevine beetle.. He was contently eating and lounging on the grape leaves. He's slightly larger than an quarter, tan and spotted and now relegated to a bug carrier cage in the basement.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunburn Treatment

A guy fell asleep on the beach for several hours and got horribly sunburned, specifically to his upper legs.
He went to the hospital, and was promptly admitted after being diagnosed with second-degree burns.

With his skin already starting to blister, and the severe pain he was in, the doctor prescribed continuous intravenous feeding with saline, electrolytes, a sedative, and a Viagra pill every four hours.

The nurse, who was rather astounded, asked, ‘What good will Viagra do for him, Doctor’?

The doctor replied, ‘It won’t do anything for his condition, but it’ll keep the sheets off his legs.’

Friday, July 11, 2008

Tomato Garden Updates

Here are a few tomato garden pictures to bring you all up-to-date and provide a visual on their progress. They are out growing their stakes height wise and forget about it (say this in an Italian wise guy type voice) when it comes to walking between them. Emilie will be our official tomater picker - and remember, you can pick your friends and you can pick your nose but you can't pick your friends nose! If you do well that's just too gross, yuk!

Early June-ish -

Early July-ish -

Below is a recent picture of my dads tomato garden, which isn't to shabby either! The hired help he has not only does a fantastic job cutting the lawn but did a super job tying all the tomato's and spreading fresh grass clippings around the plants to keep the weeds down. Also, lets not forget about ALL the other chores he does, for example; tree pruning, raking, shed roof mold removal, gutter cleaning, trash removal (but shhhhhh, don't tell my dad about this one, he'll never know or miss the stuff, plus he might never take a vacation away from home again!), etc. just to name a few...

Canning season is right around the corner! Ladies get in the kitchen and get ready (hehehe)...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Manure Tea

Q: I have seen the term "manure tea." Can you tell me what it is, where to get it, and how to use it?

A: You make it yourself. Here's the recipe. Fill a large trash can two-thirds full of water. Add 2 large buckets of chicken manure and let steep for several hours. Stir with a hoe until it is murky. Ladle the "tea" around vegetables or flowers. Old-timers claim that this drink will prevent tomato blight, and it's a great multi-purpose fertilizer.

Courtesy of The Old Farmer's Almanac

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Garden Rodent - Update

Mystery solved or rather suspicion confirmed and "problem" solved!

I took the above picture this morning. It was taken from the playroom window, which overlooks our garden. If you look close enough you can see the rodent culprit who's been helping itself and doing all the damage - a woodchuck or gopher. It was eating the lettuce and the zucchini plants without a care in the world but this was short lived!

As Carl Spackler, from the movie Caddyshack, is preparing to dynamite the gopher tunnel he say the following - "In the immortal words of Jean Paul Sartre, 'Au revoir, gopher".

I can say with 100% certainty that this particular woodchuck will NEVER be eating from our garden again - Au revior, woodchuck...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Sea of Monarda

Bee Balm

A sea of stunning Horsemint
These beautiful flowers line the back of my dad's garden.
Bee balm is an herb and considered a good plant to grow with tomatoes, ostensibly improving both health and flavor. It also is a good companion plant in general, attracting pollinators and some predatory/parasitic insects that hunt garden pests.

Money Plant - Lunaria biennis

Money Plant, Honesty, Bolbonac, Moonwort, Satin flower, Penny flower, Judas' penny, Silver Dollar & Lunaria biennis (to be horticulturally correct)

Here is a picture of the Silver Dollar seedlings I recently planted. This picture is a couple weeks old and the plants are much bigger today, yippie! My green thumbs needs some tuning as only 9 of the 16 seeds came up, alas. I've always wanted to start some of these plants and get them into our landscaping. I guess I've finally accomplished that; well the first stage anyway. Sadly, this is a close to owning a money tree as I'll ever get...

Plant Information and Interesting Facts:
Mauve-purple or white flowers that grows 2 to 3 feet tall. The flowers appear in May – June and the seeds come into their own in the end of July, beginning of August.

Plant in a mostly sunny or partly shady location. Plants thrive with neglect in average garden soil. Cut stems of plants as soon as seed pods start to turn brown. Strip leaves from plants and hang small bunches of plants upside down in a dry, shady spot. You may also need to carefully rub off outside of pod to reveal the silvery center. Technically a biennial – meaning it grows leaves the first year and flowers the second. After flowering, it dies. Luckily it seldom needs help as it can reseed itself through the garden quite aggressively.

This heirloom has been popular in winter arrangements since colonial times. Money plant was introduced to England from Germany in the late 1500s and brought to America by the Puritans.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Quaker Ladies

Honey-scented Alpine Bluets (Quaker Ladies) Houstonia caerulea (Hedyotis caerulea)

* these pictures taken this year *

• Family: Madder (Rubiaceae) • Habitat: fields • Height: 2-8 inches• Flower size: 1/2" across • Flower color: pale blue to white, yellow center • Flowering time: April to July • Origin: native

Quaker Ladies are wildflowers better known by their other common name, Bluets. Houstonia caerulea is the scientific name. The tiny plant appears in clusters and usually grows in woodlands, fields and on roadsides in the spring. The flowers are tiny, less than half an inch wide, four-petaled with a yellow center, and are pale blue. They are easily noticeable because they bloom profusely close to each other, making an attractive carpet on the ground.

These little ladies make their appearance each spring in my dads back yard. They've been doing this for as long as I can remember, back when I was a wee wittle Westwood weenie. They arrived right on time again this year, although they've spread out more that I recall with a clump here and a clump there but still lovely just the same.

Their presence signals that spring has arrived and for some reason, which I cannot explain, they remind me of my grandparents. So, whenever I see them making their spring time entrance a smile comes to my face and I'm taken back to when I was a wee wittle Westwood weenie and time spent with my grandparents.